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President Trump Orders U.S. Troops out of Northern Syria

Oct. 13, 2019 (EIRNS)—Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, in an appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” today, reported that President Donald Trump has ordered about 1,000 U.S. troops out of northern Syria.

“At this point in time in the last 24 hours we learned that they [Turkey] likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned and to the west,” he told host Margaret Brennan. “We also have learned in the last 24 hours that the Kurdish forces, the SDF, are looking to cut a deal if you will with the Syrians and the Russians to counter-attack against the Turks in the north. And so we find ourselves, as we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it’s a very untenable situation. So I spoke with the President last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”

Esper’s remarks to CBS were followed by a series of fast-breaking developments in Syria in which Kurdish officials announced that, in fact, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had reached a deal with Moscow and Damascus and, as a result, Syrian troops would be moving into Manbij, the SDF-controlled town on the west bank of the Euphrates, tonight. This was announced by the head of the Kobani military council, who told Kurdistan 24 that the SDF had reached the deal after being convinced that they had been abandoned by the U.S. “We ourselves should heal our pain,” Hassan said. “When we urged that all Kurdish [circles] should rely on our unity, no one listened. Now, we have reached an agreement with the Syrian government and the Russians. They are supposed to enter the area this evening.”

SDF commander Gen. Mazloum Abdi, in a meeting sometime between Oct. 6 and Oct. 9 with Deputy Special Envoy for the Coalition To Defeat ISIS William Roebuck, had warned that the SDF would soon be forced to go to the Russians if the U.S. could not protect the Kurds from the Turkish assault. This is reported in a document published by CNN but not yet confirmed by U.S. officials, yesterday, which it said was a readout on the meeting. “I have been holding myself back for two days from going to the press and saying America abandoned us and that I would like you to get out of our areas now so that I can invite Russian and regime planes to take over this air space,” Mazloum said according to the document. “Either you stop this bombing on our people now, or move aside so we can let in the Russians.” He concluded, “There are two forces in Syria that can stop this massacre. The United State and Russia. If you do not want to do this, then we will ask them.”

It is not clear if, in fact, the U.S. is coordinating with Russia on trying to resolve the situation in northern Syria, but it is a fact that the only way this can function is if U.S. and Russians cooperate on guaranteeing that there is a negotiated solution among all the parties with full recognition of the Assad government, by Turkey especially, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, to include full control of its entire northern border with Turkey.

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